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Parental Alienation

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When parents divorce, harsh feelings and resentment can lead to parental alienation. This is when one parent engages in emotionally manipulative tactics to convince their child that the other parent is a bad person, who does not love or care about their child.  
This is often far from the case, and the targeted parent would do anything to stop this abusive behavior while maintaining a positive relationship with their child. In the case that you may have witnessed this behavior, it is important to be aware of warning signs.

Signs of Parental Alienation:
  • Giving children choices when they have no choice about visits, or allowing the child to decide for themselves to visit when they want will set up the child for conflict. The child will tend to blame the non-residential parent for not being able to decide to choose whether or not to visit. The parent will now be victimized regardless of what happens; not being able to see his children or if he sees them, the children are angry. 
  • Resisting, or refusing, to cooperate by restricting the other parent's access to school records, medical records, and schedules of extracurricular activities. 
  • One parent blames the other parent for financial problems, breaking up the family, changes in lifestyle, having a girlfriend/boyfriend, etc. 
  • Refusing to be flexible with the child's visitation schedule in order to respond to the child's needs. The alienating parent may also schedule the children in so many activities that the other parent is never given the time to visit. When the targeted parent protests, they are then described as not caring and selfish. 
  • Asking the child to choose one parent over the other parent causes the child considerable distress. Typically, they do not want to reject a parent but instead want to avoid the issue as a whole. The child, not the parent, should initiate any suggestion for change of residence.
  • When a parent uses a child to spy or gather information for the parent's own use, the child receives a damaging message that demeans the victimized parent. 
  • Parents set up temptations that interfere with the child's visitation.
  • A parent suggesting or reacting with hurt or sadness to their child having a good time with the other parent. This will cause the child to withdraw and not communicate. They will frequently feel guilty or conflicted not knowing that it's okay to have fun with their other parent. 
  • One parent listening in on their child's phone conversation with the other parent. 

What Can You Do to Stop Parental Alienation?

If your former spouse is attempting to alienate you from your child, you may be able to get the courts to help you; but, first you have to be able to prove parental alienation is taking place.

d88b3cd911ffee4b4889c1834533ceb3d567Keep a journal - Keep daily records of anything that happens involving your child, including conversations or incidents with the other parent.   78630837 XSTalk to your attorney - If you have evidence of parental alienation, your attorney will know how best to bring it up with the court.
enforceEnforce custody and visitation orders - Even though the other parent may be doing everything possible to interfere with your visitation schedule, it's important to make sure that your child spends time with both parents.   guardianAsk the court for a guardian ad litem -  A guardian ad litem is a court officer charged with representing your child's best interests, and can monitor the other parent's compliance with court orders.

1 911talkTalk to your child - Keep open lines of communication especially since the other parent may be trying to get the child to believe that you don't love or care about them.  Listen carefully to what they have to say, validate their feelings, and make it clear that you care.

Parental alienation is an important issue to understand and identify. If you suspect you are the victim of parental alienation, it is critical to get educated on the issue and find experienced professionals who can help you address the situation immediately.